One of the most common human experiences is boredom. Despite being a common experience, boredom continually defies complete understanding.
What exactly is boredom? Who or what is to blame when you feel bored? Those are just some of the questions we feel that we have to answer.
The psychoanalyst Adam Phillips begins one of his best essays, “Every adult remembers, among many things, the great ennui of childhood, and every child’s life is punctuated by spells of boredom: that state of suspended anticipation in which things are started and nothing begins, the mood of diffuse restlessness which contains that most absurd and paradoxical wish, the wish for a desire.” The wish for a desire is a nod to Tolstoy’s similarly doubled definition of boredom (“the desire for desires”). This twisted condition is not restricted to children, and though it may be judged absurd and paradoxical, it is nevertheless common and urgent. The stall of desire working against itself is the beginning, but not the end, of boredom. And thus boredom understood in terms of desire is a first clue to boredom’s special ability to initiate philosophical reflection. But there are further clues to decipher and a more complicated solution to confront concerning the mystery of consciousness.
The ultimate question one should answer is: is boredom a good thing? Well, it is not necessarily evil.
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